IDENTITY RULES: Roxane Gay's predictable stance...

TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2022

...calls sacred Nietzche to mind: Roxane Gay is a good decent person—so why did she write what she did?

On Sunday, she wrote a guest essay in the New York Times about the deeply unfortunate plight of basketball star Brittney Griner. 

Just so you can picture her, Brittney Griner is a woman, plus she's black and she's gay. Also, Griner is under arrest in Russia, where she plays basketball—where she used to play basketball—during the WNBA's off-season. 

She has confessed to the unwitting commission of a fairly minor crime—and she may be looking ahead to years in a Russian penal colony.

Griner is facing a terrible plight—but she isn't exactly alone. According to Gay's essay, there are "reportedly more than 60 Americans who are wrongfully detained abroad." 

Griner's case "is receiving more attention than most," Gay wrote in paragraph 4, "but that’s not saying much." And yet, for reasons which our tribes badly needs to consider, Gay started her essay as shown, headline included:

GAY (7/17/22): Brittney Griner Is Trapped and Alone. Where’s Your Outrage?

When unspeakable tragedies occur, people often call for unity. They’ll say, “We are Boston Strong” or “Je suis Charlie” or “We are [insert wherever or whomever the unthinkable has happened to].” It’s a laudable instinct to claim solidarity with those who have suffered, to imagine we truly understand the ways we are all connected, to proclaim that what affects one of us affects all of us.

With the W.N.B.A. star Brittney Griner wrongfully detained in Russia for more than four months because a small amount of hashish oil was allegedly found in her luggage, I’m wondering why we haven’t seen more of a groundswell of demands for her release. In the attention economy, Ms. Griner’s predicament seems as if it’s being somewhat ignored.

The media is, at least, covering the story, and some rights groups and athletes have spoken up, but that isn’t enough. More public pressure for action is necessary. “We are B.G.” should be a viral rallying cry, but it isn’t—and why? Is it misogyny? Racism? Homophobia? The unholy trifecta?

Gay wonders why Griner's plight isn't receiving more attention—why various people aren't showing more outrage about her terrible plight. 

Before she tells us anything more, Gay hits us with three tribally mandated possible explanations. It could be our misogyny, she says. Or it could be our racism. Or maybe our homophobia!

As we'll remind you below, this presentation doesn't seem to make sense. Meanwhile, Roxane Gay is a good decent person—so why would she structure as essay like this? 

Also, why would the geniuses at the New York Times publish an essay like this? Before we take another step, let's try to get clear on the lack of logic:

According to Gay, at least sixty people are wrong fully detained abroad, much as Griner is. Also according to Gay, Griner's case "is receiving more attention than most" of these other cases. 

In fact, that's a giant understatement. Griner's case is receiving vastly more attention than these other cases. The odds are very good that you can't even cite the name of any of these other unfortunate people.

Sixty others are being detained; Griner's case is receiving more attention than these other cases. But then again, so what?

Before she even notes these facts, Gay unloads a trio of familiar tribal bombs. If not for our racism / misogyny / homophobia, the outrage about Griner's case would be much more strong!

On its face, that doesn't make sense. If you can't spot the illogic there, there's no way we can help you.

("Explanations [must] come to an end somewhere." So the later Wittgenstein instantly wrote, in a different context.) 

On its face, Gay's presentation doesn't make sense. But if it doesn't make logical sense, it does fulfill well-known tribal mandates. It makes 100 percent perfect sense in terms of our modern tribe's controlling Identity Rules.

By now, we all know what these mandates are. In the end, however well-intended our subsequent behaviors might be, they're ugly and stupid and wrong.

They're also deeply self-defeating. Our highly self-impressed blue tribe is steadily sinking beneath the sea as we let our assistant, associate and adjunct professors push this dumb culture along.

Gay bowed to our identity gods before she stated the most basic facts. She was observing the mandated identity rules which form the increasingly noxious fuel by which our failing tribe runs:

Before we mention anything else, we're required to drop our R-bombs. Gay threw in an M-bomb and an H-bomb to complete a truly "unholy trifecta."

The gods of identity say we must do this. Gay complied with their edicts, and the New York Times waved her work on.

On its face, her presentation doesn't make sense, but that's only in the logical realm. By the rules which now govern our tribe, no other approach could be offered.

We love to drop our identity bombs, fulfilling our the identity rules which come from our tribal gods. Increasingly, quite a few Others shun our tribe for this incessant behavior:

Can anyone say that they're wrong?

Tomorrow: Gay made us think of Robert Fulghum—but mainly of sacred Nietzsche


  1. "Roxane Gay is a good decent person—so why did she write what she did?"

    Liberals, dear Bob. They're brain-dead, as you know. As you informed us, numerous times, on these here pages.

    All they do -- all they can do -- is repeating the liberal "storyline", as you call it. Or, liberal talking points, as we call it.

    Such is your liberal tribe. Take it or leave it.
    ...leave it, dear Bob, leave it.

    1. I left one in the toilet this morning that was an exact replica of the Republican Party.

    2. Log (cabin) Republicans.

    3. Be careful, 12:05, reminding others that the Republican Party are pieces of shit, hurts the Right’s fee-fees.

  2. Democrats are becoming more and more cryptozoological as the move away from the working class.

    1. LOL.
      Good one.

    2. They've become so heliocentric.

    3. Quick reminder that the Right, who threw a childish temper tantrum when black peoples votes counted in the 2020 Presidential election, couldn’t find it in themselves to be mildly upset when Trump gave a HUGE tax break to the corporations and rich.

    4. In their defense, giving HUGE tax breaks to the corporations and the rich isn’t one of the two things they give a shit about.

    5. 2:43 is it tangible though?

  3. The news business does it's best to keep you angry
    as a way of keeping you watching, listening, or reading.
    This is a pretty academic observation.
    Does it make the people who call the shots in
    the News Business lowlifes and pandering sleazeballs?
    But consider what they are up against: News
    consumers like Bob watch a ghastly, murderous
    mob attack our Nation's Capital, kill people trying
    to get at our elected representatives. Thousands
    of people do this at the prompting of our President.
    Bob basically seems bored by the whole
    thing. So with News consumers like Bob,
    can we really be angry at the lengths they
    have to go to?

    1. You mean when Right-wing snowflakes threw a childish temper tantrum, just because black peoples votes counted in the 2020 Presidential election?
      Say what you will, but that was 100% on brand.

    2. Ghastly murderous? Talk about being detached from reality. No one cares about the January 6 dust up. No one talks about it. No one thinks about it. Democrats jack off to the hearings but that's about it.


    3. Hmm. We feel that a protest that didn't burn a single building (or even a single car) has to be even more peaceful than Mostly Peaceful

    4. The protestors didn't murder anyone.

    5. You idiots can't even get your facts straight.

    6. Nice try, 4:08.
      Every Right-winger I have spoken to, has begged me to stop reminding them that Right-wing snowflakes threw a childish temper tantrum on National TV, just because black peoples votes counted in the 2020 Presidential election.
      Every last one of them.
      Why won't you take Bob's advice and listen to "the Others"?

    7. Hilarious. Over the years Bob has developed a Mao Mao audience of delusional Klan wanna bes. Your Orange God has spoken, it was a dust up! Go straight to hell, delusional psychos.

    8. Right-wing snowflakes threw a childish temper tantrum, just because black peoples votes counted in the 2020 Presidential election.
      The fact that they care more about the use of pronouns than about January 6th, or helping the working class, is beside the point.

    9. Maybe next time, Right-wingers will play by the rules and call the Left "snowflakes", BEFORE throwing a childish temper tantrum, just because black people's votes counted in the 2020 Presidential election.

      All of them, Katie.

    10. Right-wingers didn't want to throw a childish temper tantrum on national TV, but they had to because black people's votes counted in the 2020 Presidential election.
      Them's the rules.

    11. Agree, 4:08
      We can't move this country forward until we ignore the cries of the snowflakes on the Right.

    12. If you really want to see the Right cry like babies, tell them black people should have equal protection in our justice system.

    13. "If it's not about bigotry and white supremacy, Republican voters don't care at all."
      Rationalist's imaginary Right-wing friend, not withstanding.


    14. Whoa, dear psycho-dembot, your mouth diarrhea is worrisome.

    15. Mao Pig, what my rhetoric is is in point and effective. Glad I could get a rise out of you, sloth man. Keep up with crap, Republican cop killer fans, with a bit of luck you can visit your heroes in jail in the coming years. No sane person does not hold you responsible for the deaths of those cops.


    16. We're quite used to your tiresome confessions, dear psycho-dembot.

      ...however, your mouth-diarrhea condition is progressing, clearly.

      We're worried. Take care of yourself, dear, please. Try valium or something...

    17. The Right doesn't know how good they have it.
      Instead of a hearing on the January 6th insurrection, there could be an investigation into why not one Republican voter made a peep when Trump gave that HUGE tax break to corporations and the rich.
      If there was a hearing on that, I'd bet not one Republican would explain how they could be "economically anxiousness" under oath.

    18. 7:14,
      I’d support that hearing, if it would finally kill the nonsense idea that GOP voters care about something other than bigotry and white supremacy.

  4. "We love to drop our identity bombs, fulfilling our the identity rules which come from our tribal gods. Increasingly, quite a few Others shun our tribe for this incessant behavior:

    Can anyone say that they're wrong?"

    Yes, I can say they're wrong. The Others wish to continue abusing other people for being different than them. It is OK to hold divergent opinions, but abusing other people because of that divergence is wrong, and that is what is meant when people accuse The Others of being racist, sexist, homophobic and so on. The Others are very much in the wrong, the moment they act on their dislikes and phobias, the minute they engage in hate speech or violence against those they hate. And yes, those Others should be shunned and cast out of society for misbehavior that harms those in their own community. They are not fit to live among civil people.

    Somerby is himself wrong when he comes to their defense. There is no defense for hate speech and violence aimed at people for being different, no matter what the source of authority for disliking such difference. We must all live together in a multicultural society and no one's belief in religion, politics, or philosophy, justifies harming those peaceful others who are just trying to live their lives along with The Others. This is the main point of disagreement between The Others and those of us on the left. Somerby disregards it, as if tolerance were unimportant. He instead blames the left for chastising the right for its hatred of difference -- and their actions that harm others. In this, Somerby is making a huge mistake, one that few liberals would make. He is siding with the others, against liberals, and there is no way on earth he is trying to teach those of us who believe strongly in tolerance, anything of value.

    1. The authoress wasn't writing about people wanting to continue abusing other people because of any kind of divergence. That had nothing to do with the identity bombs that she dropped. She dropped them with no other pretext than people were not supporting an issue she supports as much as she would like. That's all. They didn't support an issue she supports as much as she would like so she calls into question if they are racists. Somerby, as usual, is completely correct. When someone does that, it's a turnoff to a lot of people. (Whether you realize it or not.)

    2. 6:53,
      That’s the same thing the Right and their media mouthpieces do, when they state we’re too broke to help the citizenry, yet they believe THE job of the government is defense.
      They don’t really worry about the deficit or that we can’t afford to waive student loan payback or provide universal healthcare.
      Their beliefs are just different, and the deficit/ the country is broke stories they tell are red herrings.
      You’d think Bob would notice.

    3. 8:20 your comment doesn't make any sense at all.

    4. @6:53 -- I don't believe she dropped any bombs at all. She proposed a possible explanation for disinterest in what happens to Griner. And she didn't accuse any specific person. But Somerby is VERY sensitive about anyone being called racist, sexist, homophobic, even with solid evidence of it. But had Griner called anyone those names, it would have been because they weren't working hard enough to help bring her home. She said she didn't understand why there wasn't more outcry to do so. That is NOT the same as supporting some issue. It is worrying about the fate of a particular person. So, no, this isn't about disagreement over supporting some issue at all. It is about harming a person by not applying the full weight of public power to help her, as they have presumably helped others -- except there is no evidence anyone else has been helped to escape Russia either.

      I am not saying that I agree with Griner, but I disagree that she dropped any bombs on anyone, as Somerby complains. As to turning off others, we don't live to please other people, especially not people in "Fuck Your Feelings" t-shirts. There is nothing in our constitution that says we must make the right wing happy, so go ahead and be turned off. Somerby too.

    5. 9:01,
      Do you mean you don’t understand what I wrote?
      Let me know, and I’ll help you get it.

    6. The thing to realize is that the deficit and that we as a nation can’t afford to help the citizens are red herrings.
      They just use those red herrings as an excuse for why we can’t help the citizenry.
      At the end of the day, it’s just a disagreement about what things we should do as a nation, not that we can’t afford it.